Aram Shelton keeps his Chicago fires burning

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Seems like every musician who moves away from Chicago makes a pledge to sustain the musical relationships made here and keep collaborating from afar. But few have kept that promise as assiduously as reedist Aram Shelton, who moved to Oakland in August 2005 and has returned regularly, maintaining his roles in several terrific Chicago groups. The trio Dragons 1976 doesn't play much now that bassist Jason Ajemian lives in New York, but two other superb bands Shelton is part of will perform during his visit this weekend.

Fast Citizens, whose lineup also includes reedist Keefe Jackson, cornetist Josh Berman, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Anton Hatwich, and drummer Frank Rosaly, will debut a slew of new Shelton compositions Saturday at Heaven and Sunday at the Hungry Brain. The group's debut, Ready Everyday (Delmark, 2006), was billed to Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens, but only because Jackson wrote the tunes--their next album, which will be recorded this week, will be billed to Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens. Shelton will also perform with Rolldown, an excellent quintet led by vibist Jason Adasiewicz, on Monday at the Skylark.

Back in the Bay Area, Shelton is even busier, of course. His Ton Trio will release its first album in March on his own Singlespeed Music label. He's also been playing regularly in the Weasel Walter Quintet and leads an impressive-looking quartet himself--drummer Kjell Nordeson, trumpeter Darren Johnston, and bassist Lisa Mezzacappa. Plus he's got some other, more sporadic groupings you can read about on his Web site.

Today's playlist:

Poolplayers, Way Below the Surface (Songlines)
Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, Party Intellectuals (Pi)
Food, Molecular Gastronomy (Rune Grammofon)
Peter Walker, Echo of My Soul (Tompkins Square)
Guillermo Klein & Los Guachos, Filtros (Sunnyside)

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